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I am thinking of buying a smaller Wharram cat….maybe 28 to 30 feet.  

I have been aware of the Wharram design philosophy for decades, but now that I am inching closer to a possible purchase I am asking myself if this type of small boat is capable of sailing in "blue water" conditions….not necessarily around the world. but maybe off to the Bahamas (across the Gulf Stream), across to Cancun, maybe the Carribean...

Is a smaller boat safe/comfortable, or are these smaller cats primarily designed for near-coastal cruising?

Thanks for replying if you have any advice/opinions. 

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In the PCA magazine Nº 58 there is an article from Gerard Winkler about voyages in small Wharram catamarans.

You can look also in PCA Nº 10 about a family that has sailed from Florida to the Bahamas and back, in a Pahi 26. There is a lot of info in the PCA magazines.

See http://www.pca-seapeople.net/sea.people.html



     What I like best is that you are asking about safety.  That means to me that safety is a concern you have and so I feel already that you will be safer because you will pay attention to weather forecasts, not be trying to show off how bull headed you are, not trying to fight with Mother Nature.  You intend to be safe rather than sorry and you want a boat which is suited to the use intended. 

     My husband and I built a Tiki 46 mostly because he just had the dream of building a large catamaran and sailing it across the Atlantic.  He was at a place in his life where he legitimately needed to have a dream come true.  My thinking was that waves are higher and storms are stronger now a days due to global warming, so I thought the safer course would be to agree and get a larger boat plan that would be able to handle those conditions.  I had already done a lot of sailing in a 28 foot monohull so I had been in two survival storms and knew what that was all about.  However, I know Rory MacDougal sailed his tiny Wharram Tiki 21 mostly solo around the world and a few years later he sailed the same boat solo twice across the Atlantic.  You can read all about that trip on line. Just google around.  You can read a lot about us on our boat just googling around.  It is parlly here and more is on the Wharram Design's website.  Rory made a success because of his great skill and humility and willingness to work with Mother Nature rather than in spite of Mother Nature. 

     Your main defense against tragedy at sea is your attention to safety.  Build that boat carefully and follow the plans and it will be a better boat for it.  Unless you already have thousands of blue water miles under you, probably you do not understand the ocean well enough to be making big changes to the building plans.  Wharrams have those miles and they know the ocean in all its moods, and they design safe boats. 

     If this will be your first Wharram, then you would be best advised to do something we did not do when we finished Peace IV.  What we did was to immediately set out down the European coast and then headed straight out across the Atlantic in a boat we were still learning about, and still tightening the rigging and the beam lashings etc.  I suggest that you be more sensible than that.  If you are on the US east coast, then you should go coastally north and south with the seasons getting acquainted with your boat and learning exactly how she likes to be handled in all the conditions you are likely to face.  Learn weather forecasting and learn sail handling according to your boat, learn your waters and learn about yourself and your boat buddies and how dynamics of relationships change at sea.  Go very gently that first year.  Then gradually stretch out and try for more distance always building on success and learning best practices.   

     My first two years on the old monohull (a Shannon 28), I was much more sensible. There were trips from Rhode Island to the nearby islands and Cape Cod, and up the Hudson .  The third year there was a trip to Bermuda and a sail down the ICW to Florida and then out to the Bahamas.  Then that marriage ended (friendship continued) and I singlehanded back to Rhode Island by way of Bermuda and the next year, my 4th year sailing, I soloed to Bahamas, back to Rhode Island, and then across the Atlantic.  That is about the best way to do things.  Start local, then sail farther each year until you feel comfortable doing what you do and see if you want or need to do more or not.  But by the time I was solo sailing, I really knew that old 28 footer through and through.  When I got to England, I met Nev and solo sailing was over and done with.

     It took Nev and I a while learning to sail together.  He first joined me on that 28 footer back in Britain and we sailed coastally for two weeks in the Clyde while he had vacation from work.  We got along splendidly together on the boat and I pretty much knew we would be great together as a cruising couple.  But we did not marry until we had sailed that boat across the Atlantic.  Then I knew he was perfect.  Only trouble was the boat was too small for us as total live aboards full timel.  So we sold that dear old boat and flew to Britain and married.  Then we restored a very old and semi rotted monohull and learned we could work together.  And THEN (only then) I agreed to build the big Tiki 46 with him.

     It is a big project to build a boat.  I knew Nev well by this time, I knew me well too, and I knew how we both worked and sailed together.  So we began and it was hard (much, much harder than I ever believed) to build that big Tiki 46.  Several times we (mostly me) wanted to quit but Ruth Wharram, our good friend and my ex husband, and other friends helped physically or encouraged, or lent us money when finances were skinny, and somehow we finished after 3.5 years hard work during a 5 year period.  We had to stop over winter and during some health problems. 

     This is a long letter about a big boat and a monohul and I know you were only asking about small Wharramsl. But I am trying to illustrate that you must know yourself, know your partners, know your new boat, know what you want to do, and learn a whole lot about sailing, and then you will be able to do your sailing in safety.  If it were me, knowing what I know now, I would happily sail across the Atlantic in a Tiki 30.  Lots of folks cross oceans in smaller Wharrams.  Rory ( magical Rory) crossed all the oceans and then twice crossed the Atlantic and he was safe at all times.  I do think he is magic though.  Grin.

     David, this begins a great adventure.  It has already begun for you.  Selecting the boat, maybe building the boat, and then organizing your life to sail.  I began that adventure not knowing I would sail so far or even build a boat, but it just grew gradually.  I started at mid 40s and now am 71.  We have our Peace IV for sale here and it is heart breaking but necessary to let her go now.  We look at other boats and are not enthused.  I love to think of you just starting out.  Go safely and select the boat that you feel most comfortable in.  Go sit in Wharrams.  There are lots of the little ones around.  Sit in several of them and think about where you would put the stuff you want with you.  Let your imagination run and day dream about it.  Just sitting there.  You will know the right size boat then.  The right size for you.

     Go slow, stay safe, and enjoy,


WOW such an inspiration!

Your really good with Words Ann.

I am sold on small wharrams before hand after sailing my 20footer in australia when i was 17.

But Thankyou!

// Phillip

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